Will consumers try on a new type of e-tail site?

Discussion
Jul 31, 2015

Ordering clothes, trying them on and returning them is nothing new for many online shoppers, typically across a number of brands from a single website, such as Zappos. Try.com provides a way to "try" stuff from multiple retail websites at once.

With a slogan of "Try clothes from your favorite online stores for free," Try.com’s three-step process encourages members to:

  • Hit the Try Button – Once the the Try Button is installed in their browsers, members will see a pop up on their favorite ecommerce stores right next to the "Add To Cart" button with images of select product. Clicking the Try Button sends the item to their home directly from the retailer. The service sends up to five items at a time, though users can earn more "tries" by inviting friends. Try.com asks simply for credit card details so they can charge for what customers buy. Shipping is free.
  • Get 10 days to decide what to keep – Shoppers pay the price shown by the retailer if they buy but nothing for anything they decide to return. Coupons and discounts can be used.
  • Return the rest with the pre-paid label – Returns are free.

Try.com is currently available only to desktop users of Google Chrome, which displays the necessary button next to Add to Cart icons on retailers’ sites.

Stitchfix 3 shot=

Competition among try-on at home services sites comes from websites such as Halsbrook and Stitch Fix that also offer free shipping and returns. However, both work like typical e-commerce websites, holding their own inventory and handling fulfilment themselves.

Halsbrook is modelled after exclusive services offered by some luxury department stores in which a selection of new designer fashions are delivered to VIP clientele for them to try on in their homes before paying for them. The service caters to Boomers who are still fairly new to shopping for clothes online and could benefit from an easy-to-browse website with a curated collection and how-to style guides.

Stitch Fix is a subscription service sending out five items from up-and-coming designer labels every month or so. New members begin by filling out a Style Profile to help its personal stylists understand their size, style, shape, budget and lifestyle. Members have three days to decide what to keep. Stitch Fix stands out by charging a $20 styling fee, although the charge can be applied as a credit toward anything kept from the shipment.

"Like other online retailers, Stitch Fix saves you a trip to the store by shipping items directly to you," Stitch Fix’s marketing copy reads. "But our personal stylists also save you the time and trouble of selecting clothing and accessories."

Will try-on apparel websites appeal to large numbers of consumers? Does it make business sense for major retailers to participate with these sites?

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"As my wife said the first time she tried a Zappos apparel order, "Why would I ever have to go to a store again?""

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15 Comments on "Will consumers try on a new type of e-tail site?"

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Max Goldberg
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

On the positive side try-on websites put merchandise in people’s homes where they can try it with other items they already own. On the negative side these services invite returns, which are costly. If customers keep significantly more items than they return this could be a win for participating retailers. If not, these sites can quickly become a cash drain.

Tom Redd
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Trunkclub modified? Too much thinking and too early. Need more merchants and a centralized distribution center or advanced drop ship system.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
2 years 4 months ago
As my wife said the first time she tried a Zappos apparel order, “Why would I ever have to go to a store again?” She pointed out the time savings, the multiple choices and most of all the ability to see how each piece might work with her wardrobe. The challenge she said, “is not keeping everything.” From my point of view, as an exclusive Zappos apparel shopper, it opens new vistas and choices for me. Yes, I would like to see what other retailers have, but it isn’t worth taking the time to actually go to the store, and… Read more »
Bob Phibbs
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Lost in almost all these discussions of new ways to buy online is, “Is it profitable?” Since venture capitalists are so keen on giving their money away, why not just walk into a major retailer and hand out $20 bills?

Steve Montgomery
Guest
2 years 4 months ago
Try and buy has gone from a novel idea to a fairly mainstream concept. I expect it will be very popular with those who like the convenience of being able to try things at home and return them without the inconvenience of going back to the store, explaining why they didn’t keep the items, etc. Plus it allows the person to have a number of items at their home with no charge except for the items they elect to keep. I do however, wonder how long it will be before those that never buy (but perhaps use) are asked not… Read more »
Joan Treistman
Guest
2 years 4 months ago
Warby Parker set the stage for these websites by offering consumers the opportunity to try on glasses at home. It is a given that some or all will be returned. Although Zappos offers the free try-on approach I think it was Warby Parker that demonstrated the long-term potential success for the concept of trying on fashion at home. And now they have invested in brick-and-mortar sites. We’ve been trying on at home and returning forever but only recently from online purchases. Doing this from online purchases adds tremendous convenience to the shopper. If retailers maintain the convenience of fast turnaround… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Why not for both shoppers and merchants?! Is there an added cost for the merchants? Not necessarily. If crafted correctly, this can be a great messaging tool to the consumer audience and drive profitable growth in the end.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
2 years 4 months ago
Try-on apparel websites will absolutely appeal to large numbers of consumers. I closely observe my Millennial-aged daughter’s shopping habits. She has become a master of online apparel shopping over the past five to six years. Packages having been flowing in and out of our home during those years. 90 percent of her purchases are based on the brand’s or the retailer’s return policy and shipping charges. Those two factors are paramount. They have enabler her to try on many things. Most are returned for one reason or the other but she prides herself in finding great clothes and great prices.… Read more »
Cathy Hotka
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Nice idea, but what builds added costs into all of this is that women’s clothing sizes are a complete mystery. Ordering online can be really frustrating. Should you order a 6 or a 12? It depends. And that boosts shipping costs.

Why this hasn’t been addressed before now is a mystery.

Lee Kent
Guest
2 years 4 months ago
Does it appeal to a large number of consumers? Yes. Does it make business sense? Now that’s the real question isn’t it? For the two ventures that carry their own inventory, they have the opportunity to curate and control shipping a little better. I would have to look at the model to see if it makes business sense but sure, they could make it work. For Try.com, looks like each retailer will be responsible for their own items. This looks very iffy to me. Some retailers have delivery covered and some are delivery disasters. As the consumer, if i were… Read more »
Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

This could grow in appeal if safeguards are put in place. Too often people will use the “try before you buy” as a means to get a apparel to wear to a one-time event then return it. I do not see how this can be avoided. But maybe the end justifies the means.

Peter Charness
Guest
2 years 4 months ago
It makes little business sense from a P&L standpoint. For some apparel retailers returns are over 30 percent of sales which means a lot of extra inventory investment required to support the “float” of unavailable for sale. Add in a 10-day trial period and this gets even worse. It also will encourage more “free rentals.” Ten days gets that item to the party and back and then returned. If it’s all free and easy there’s no commitment on the part of the shopper to be even a little bit economical with what they order, wear and return. Eventually prices have… Read more »
Shep Hyken
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

This is becoming more and more popular. Still hasn’t hit the tipping point, but gaining traction. I can’t speak to the profitability, but there are plenty of companies that are offering this. Online retailing eliminates a lot of overhead cost, which is balanced out by warehouse and shipping costs. Look who is getting into this channel—and who is not. That may be a hint to determine if this model works, or not.

Kai Clarke
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Yes. Anything to allow consumers to shop from the comfort of their homes expands the market for try-on apparel websites. Major retailers need to work with these sites in order to ensure that they are not getting left with their competitors.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Will a segment of consumers like it? Yes. Can they make a profit from it? I am not sure. For a single brand to do it like Zappos is one thing, to expand it to multiple brand and incurring the overhead and processing, I wonder if the economic model works — simply because you can successfully raise funding doesn’t mean you have a successful business. Lesson from the last dot-com boom.

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"As my wife said the first time she tried a Zappos apparel order, "Why would I ever have to go to a store again?""

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